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The Atlanta Braves moved closer to the playoffs by taking an important win over their closest pursuer.

Even better, some players who could play key roles on Atlanta's postseason roster looked playoff-ready.

Luca Duda's pinch-hit double drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh, and the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-3 on Thursday night to move within reach of their first NL East title in five years.

Atlanta leads the second-place Phillies by 6 1/2 games following the opening game of the four-game series. The teams close the season with three games at Philadelphia, but the Phillies need to win at least three of four in Atlanta to retain hope of making the final series meaningful.

The Braves have a magic number of four over Philadelphia to clinch their first division title since 2013. Following the Mets' 5-4 win over Washington, Atlanta needs to win only two of the remaining three games in the series to clinch the division.

"It's fun; these games mean a lot," said Kevin Gausman, who allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings, adding another strong start to his case to be included in the postseason rotation.

Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler didn't want to talk about now having to win three straight over the Braves.

"I don't think we think about that right now," Kapler said. "The most important thing is we did not execute winning tonight's ballgame. That puts us in a position where we need to come out and win tomorrow's ballgame."

Freddie Freeman had two hits and scored two runs. He has eight hits in his last three games.

Tommy Hunter (4-4), the Phillies' fifth pitcher, gave up a leadoff double to Dansby Swanson in the seventh. The left-handed hitting Duda pulled the run-scoring double into the right-field corner, giving Atlanta the 4-3 lead.

The Braves pulled away with four runs in the eighth.

Swanson, who had two hits, drew a bases-loaded walk from Luis Garcia in the eighth to force in a run. Pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson and Ronald Acuna Jr. drove in runs with back-to-back fly balls off Austin Davis, the Phillies' eighth pitcher, and Ender Inciarte added a run-scoring single.

Garcia gave up four runs without recording an out.

Kapler said he would have used Hector Neris or Seranthony Dominguez instead of Garcia, whose ERA rose to 5.77, if the game had been tied.

Jesse Biddle (6-1), the Phillies' 2010 first-round pick, gave up one hit while recording two outs in the seventh.

Vince Velasquez, who began the night 0-4 with a 7.41 ERA in his first four starts against Atlanta this season, allowed three runs on five hits in three innings.

The Phillies scored two runs on three hits, including RBI singles by Odubel Herrera and Jorge Alfaro, in the third.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Kapler said SS J.P. Crawford's shoulder was "a little sore." He said Crawford felt better hitting than playing in the field, and his status contributed to a lineup that included Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop and Carlos Santana at third base. 3B Maikel Franco (shoulder) was available off the bench.

DOUBLE-GUESSING DEFENSE

Atlanta had runners on first and third with one out in the first when Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins fielded a grounder by Johan Camargo. Instead of immediately throwing to second base, Hoskins stepped on the bag at first . That enabled Atlanta's Nick Markakis, who had been on first, to force a long run-down sequence while Freeman scored from third for a 2-1 lead.

Hoskins' obvious disappointment on the field showed he regretted his decision. Kapler acknowledged "the run is important" but defended Hoskins. "It's a judgment play and we trust Rhys," he said.

Kapler did say he thought left fielder Aaron Altherr should have more aggressively charged a hit Swanson turned into a double in the seventh.

RELIEF FOR OCTOBER

Two Atlanta relievers also had important outings. Arodys Vizcaino, the former Atlanta closer who came off the disabled list on Sept. 14 after missing 55 games with right shoulder inflammation, threw a perfect eighth inning. Chad Sobotka, a 6-foot-7 rookie right-hander, struck out the side in the ninth.

"That's huge," said Braves manager Brian Snitker, referring to possible added depth in the team's postseason bullpen that could be provided by the right-handers.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Nick Pivetta (7-13, 4.67) will start in Friday night's second game of the four-game series. Pivetta is 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA in four starts against Atlanta this season. For his career, he's 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA against the Braves.

Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (9-8, 3.97) is 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this season.

The Chicago White Sox finally found a way to win at Progressive Field.

Matt Davidson hit a run-scoring single with two out in the 11th inning to lift the White Sox to a 5-4 win over the Indians on Thursday night, Chicago's first victory at Cleveland this season.

The White Sox were outscored 58-19 in dropping their first eight games, including a 4-1 loss on Wednesday when Jason Kipnis hit a grand slam in the ninth.

"I'm happy to say that these guys do show you fight and they don't quit," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "I know that things don't always turn out the way we want them to turn out as a club, but they've kept battling."

Cleveland has split four games since wrapping up its third straight AL Central title. The Indians open a three-game series Friday night at home against Boston, which clinched the AL East on Thursday. The teams split four games at Fenway Park last month.

"It was actually a fun game," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You certainly want to win. But with 10 games left it's nice to play a game like that. They pushed us pretty good. Playing in games where, if somebody makes a mistake you lose, that's good for us."

Yolmer Sanchez doubled off Adam Cimber (0-3) to start the 11th and moved to third on a groundout. After Avisail Garcia was intentionally walked, Ryan Cordell struck out before Davidson singled to right.

Hector Santiago (6-3) pitched three scoreless innings. Eric Haase was hit by a pitch to start the 11th, but Santiago retired Fransico Lindor on a fly ball, struck out Michael Brantley and got Jose Ramirez on a groundout to end the game.

Kipnis batted with runners on first and second and two outs in the 10th. He sent a grounder to the right side, but the ball struck Brandon Barnes, who was on first base, ending the inning. Kipnis was credited with a single.

Cleveland tied the game with two runs in the eighth on a wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk. Lindor and Brantley, who hit back-to-back homers in the third, started the rally.

Lindor tripled off Aaron Bummer and scored on a head-first slide when a pitch in the dirt skipped away from catcher Omar Narvaez.

A single by Brantley and two walks loaded the bases with one out. Juan Minaya, the fourth reliever of the inning, struck out Yandy Diaz, but walked Melky Cabrera, tying the game. Kipnis popped out.

Chicago starter James Shields allowed two runs in six innings. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and got out of the third and sixth with double plays.

Narvaez hit a solo homer in the third while Moncada had a two-run double in the second. Garcia's RBI single gave Chicago a first-inning lead.

Josh Tomlin allowed four runs and eight hits in four innings. The right-hander began the season in Cleveland's rotation, but was moved to the bullpen in May.

Tomlin has started twice in the last week. Francona has juggled his rotation to get Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco in line to pitch the first two games of the Division Series that begins Oct. 5.

TAKING A BREAK

Indians 3B Josh Donaldson didn't start after being in the lineup on back-to-back days for the first time with Cleveland. He walked as a pinch hitter in the eighth and is batting .167 (3 for 18) with a home run in six games since being acquired from Toronto on Aug. 31.

Donaldson missed three months with a calf injury, but Francona thinks his offense will pick up. He also made two outstanding defensive plays Wednesday night.

"We've seen him do it for years across the field," Francona said. "You look at the tools and you see all that, but he's a baseball player, too. He can play third. The game doesn't speed up. It's just, the more reps he gets, the better he'll be."

WINDY CITY SHOWDOWN

The White Sox and Cubs open a three-game series Friday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. The Cubs outscored the White Sox 22-11 in taking two of three at Wrigley Field in May. The White Sox have lost seven of nine in the series.

"I won't go to sleep tonight," Renteria said. "I'll stay awake. I can sleep tomorrow night."

TRAINER'S ROOM

White Sox: 1B Jose Abreu (infection in right thigh) was in uniform after being released from the hospital Wednesday. Renteria said it's a longshot that Abreu will play this weekend against the Cubs.

UP NEXT

White Sox: RHP Reynaldo Lopez (6-9. 4.05 ERA) will pitch the opener against the Cubs. He's 2-0 with six no-decisions in his last 10 starts.

Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (12-6, 2,22 ERA) will make his first start since Aug. 11 when he was struck with a line drive and broke his right leg. He's expected to pitch two innings against Boston.

Cody Reed was a winner in his first major league start and Scooter Gennett homered and doubled to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-2 win over the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.

Reed (1-2) scattered five hits and struck out six in six shutout innings. The left-hander joined the starting rotation Aug. 30 and has thrown 11 consecutive scoreless innings.

Gennett's two-run home run in the seventh gave Cincinnati a 4-0 lead. Gennett's blast off Miami reliever Elieser Hernandez landed in the upper deck in right field and was his 23rd homer.

The Marlins threatened in the sixth as Starlin Castro and J.T. Realmuto singled, but Reed retired Peter O'Brien on a double-play grounder and Austin Dean on a fly to center.

Realmuto's two-out RBI double off reliever Jared Hughes cut Cincinnati's lead to 4-1. Raisel Iglesias inherited Realmuto and allowed a run-scoring single by O'Brien before retiring pinch hitter Derek Dietrich on a fly to center.

Iglesias walked two in the ninth before Gennett made a diving stop on a hard grounder by Miguel Rojas and threw him out at first for the final out. Iglesias earned his 29th save in 33 opportunities.

The Reds struck early on Gennett's two-run double off Miami starter Jeff Brigham in the third. Gennett drove in Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler, who had reached on walks.

Brigham (0-3) allowed two runs, three hits, four walks and struck out six in his third major league start since being promoted from Triple A New Orleans on Sept. 1

TRAINER'S ROOM:

Reds: RHP Tyler Mahle, bothered by right shoulder fatigue, will miss his next scheduled start on Sunday, and manager Jim Riggleman is uncertain if he will pitch again this season. "If I had an update as to when he will pitch in a game, I will say so," Riggleman said. "We don't even know if he will pitch in a game between now and the end of the year. He feels fine, but we're just going to make a determination — do we want to do it in a controlled simulated situation or putting him a game for two innings?"

UP NEXT:

Reds: RHP Luis Castillo (10-12, 4.52), a former Marlins prospect, will start the second game of the series Friday. Castillo, acquired for RHP Dan Straily before the 2017 season, pitched eight innings, allowed one run and three hits and got the victory in his previous start against his former team on July 30, 2017.

Marlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (6-11, 4.93) will attempt to continue his home success on Friday. Chen has a 1.77 ERA in 12 home starts while his road ERA is 9.29 in 12 starts.

The crowd at East Lake was larger and louder than it has been in five years, which was the last time Tiger Woods was at the Tour Championship.

It was no coincidence.

Woods played one of his best rounds of the year in his return to the FedEx Cup finale and caused the biggest cheer of a sun-baked Thursday afternoon by making an eagle putt from just over 25 feet on the par-5 18th for a 5-under 65 and a share of the lead with Rickie Fowler.

It was the second time in as many FedEx Cup playoff events that Woods was tied for the 18-hole lead. He shot a 62 at Aronimink in the opening round of the BMW Championship two weeks ago on a rain-soaked course that allowed just about everyone to go low.

This felt even better on a dry, tougher East Lake course.

"This was by far better than the 62 at Aronimink," Woods said. "Conditions were soft there. This, it's hard to get the ball closer. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can't get the ball close. You just can't control it."

Fowler, who missed two playoff events recovering from an injury to his right oblique, putted for birdie on all but two holes for his 65 as he tries to avoid ending the season without winning.

Justin Rose, in his debut as the No. 1 player in the world, got up-and-down from the bunker for birdie on the 18th for a 66 and was tied with Gary Woodland. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau, all of whom will be in France next week for the Ryder Cup, were another shot behind.

Woods already considers this a successful year just by making into the 30-man field at East Lake for the FedEx Cup finale, where everyone has a mathematical shot at capturing the $10 million bonus. He started the season in January after a fourth back surgery that limited him to only 16 PGA Tour events in the previous four seasons.

"To be able to play golf again and to earn my way back to this level is something that I was hoping I would do at the beginning of the year, but I didn't know," Woods said. "And I've done it?"

What would winning mean in this comeback?

"It would enhance the year," he said.

Woods still has 54 holes remaining. Two weeks ago, he went from a share of the first-round lead to five shots behind on a course where attacking flags on soft greens was the only option for low scoring.

This was more about precision, and Woods felt in total control. He opened with a three-putt bogey from 25 feet, and he twice ran birdie attempts farther beyond the hole than he would have liked. But after making birdie putts from 25 feet on No. 5 and from 15 feet on No. 6, he figured out the speed of the greens and was on his way.

"I hit so many quality shots all day, whether it was tee-to-green or it was putts," Woods said. "I didn't really mishit a single shot today. The only shot I can honestly say that I necked pretty bad was the tee shot at 17. Hit a 3-wood there, and with an iron, I probably would have shanked it. But ended up in the fairway and made par."

Woods will play in the final group Friday with Fowler, who has seen plenty of him at home in Florida in the months before Woods returned to golf. He had finished his round and was doing interviews when he heard the head-turning roar of Woods making eagle.

They will be teammates next week at the Ryder Cup. Fowler has other objectives at East Lake.

"The biggest win for him is just staying healthy and being out here all year consistently," Fowler said. "Definitely happy for him. It's obviously great for our sport. It's great to have him as part of the team next week. We hope he continues to play well. I just want to play a little bit better and beat him."

Sixteen players in the 30-man field broke par on a hot afternoon with only a light breeze, and Thursday was all about staying in the game, especially as it relates to the chase for the FedEx Cup.

Bryson DeChambeau, the No. 1 seed after the points were reset, had to birdie two of the last three holes for a 71. For someone like Woods or Fowler to win the FedEx Cup, they would need the top five seeds to falter.

Rose and Thomas didn't go along with that with strong opening rounds. Finau overcame a pair of early bogeys for his 67.

The key for Woods could be Friday. Only once this year, at the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook, has he stayed consistently in the thick of it all tournament. He figures to have plenty of support. Houses along the side streets outside East Lake, and even one funeral home, offered parking and their yards were packed. It hasn't been like that in several years.

"I hadn't played this tournament in five years, and some of the people said they haven't been out here in five years," Woods said. "That's kind of nice that they're coming out and supporting this event and supporting me, as well."

Here are Thursday night's high school sports scores featuring local teams.

Boys Soccer

Paducah Tilghman 10, Ballard Memorial 0
Madisonville 8, Caldwell County 0
McCracken County 5, Hopkinsville 2
Marshall County 8, Graves County 1
St. Mary 4, Lyon County 2
Murray 7, Mayfield 0

Girls Soccer

Lyon County 10, St. Mary 0
Murray 11, Mayfield 1
Graves County 2, Marshall County 1
Trigg County 6, Todd County Central 0
Webster County 5, Crittenden County 2
Caldwell County 3, Fort Campbell 0
Calloway County 9, Paducah Tilghman 0

Volleyball

Calloway County 3, Murray 2 (26-25, 18-25, 25-15, 23-25, 15-12)
Graves County 3, CCA 0 (25-16, 25-14, 25-12)
Fulton City 3, Union City, TN 0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-15)
Carlisle County 3, Fulton County 0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-14)
Marshall County 3, Mayfield 1 (22-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-14)
McCracken County 3, Paducah Tilghman 0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-18)

Boys Golf

Graves County (152) - Josh Roy 35, Kobe Allen 38, Chase Carrico 39, Alex Jackson 40
Ballard Memorial (188) - Brady Cox 43, Blaine Dowdy 47, Evan Cox 47, Mason Woods 51


Girls Golf

Graves County Underclassmen (117) - Ellie West 36, Laney Shoulta 39, Hannah McAdoo 42
Graves County Seniors (126) - Nicole Taylor 34, Madison Myers 44, Neely Shoulta 48
Ballard Memorial (NTS) - Autumn Dowdy 44